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30 July
link : thoughts (1) : track it (3) : in artsy stuff

I tend to use Craft in that big, pretentious theatrical way. I'm down with Craft. I'm also fine with The Crafts, in a pagan arts sort of way.

But this weekend (amidst sniffles and shivers) I started a new craft in the common sense of the word. As in, arts and. I've started making my own jewelry.

Of course, jewelry making looks fun, but bead stringing is desperately tedious. And all-bead jewelry doesn't really work with my personal retro sensibility [something like "Nothing between 1960 and 1991!"]. In fact, most jewelry you can make ends up looking very silly indeed. I still fancy that mine is quite pretty, as it's heavily inspired by Superhero Designs.

Anyhow, I've been making necklaces upon necklaces. Too many, even. It's one of the few things I've been able to do with this sickness that doesn't hurt my eyes. If you're a hand-craft kind of a girl (or guy, though I'm pretty sure the boys won't be interested in my baubles) and feel like trading something handmade of your own, let me know. I love getting mail.


working women / working class
link : thoughts (2) : track it (0) : in feministy stuff

My first thought on reading Trinity's We Have Brains question this week [which is, by the way To be better feminists, must we be better consumers?] was that I'd already answered it recently. And that, of course, better consumption was key.

But that's just one take on "good consumers" - that good consumerism equals responsible buying. Voting with your dollar, so to speak.

The other question, the one she was actually asking, is whether buying power equals power. And how important participation in the working world is to feminism. I don't think it's important at all - meaning, I don't think a woman's career choices or the amount of money she earns should have any impact on her acceptance as a feminist. You don't have to be successful at anything to be a feminist - be it mothering, sex, work. It shouldn't matter.

That said. Because feminism is still frequently a middle-class movement, because there is still a gap between the "working woman" (implying successful career) and the "working class" (implying, essentially, working poor), because what a woman does for money still isn't one hundred percent her choice - because of all these things, I think career choices are still very much an issue for feminism.

The "better consumer" [the woman with more buying power] is only one of these choices. But economic freedom [ultimately, buying power] is one thing that enables making choices, particularly for women with children. A "working class" job, or mothering as a primary job, can mean dependence on a man. Fine, if you decide to go that route deliberately. But there are also women for whom educational and economic limitations dictate dependence; the reason working as a grocery store clerk seems boring and demeaning to some women is that it's not a job that seems like a choice, just as working outside the home wasn't a matter of feminist empowerment for many early factory-working women (it was a matter of feeding a family, particularly for immigrants who owned no land).

[I'm sick, and not feeling particularly plucky, so I'll ask you all to imagine a very inspiring rant about the need to increase the minimum wage to a living wage, and to at least revert the welfare system back to the education rules from a year ago.]

There's another issue that Trinity touched on in her post (which was such a rich question): the two incomes required to support families. Not just the working poor ones (who often need three, even four minimum wage jobs for two people to support themselves and children), but the middle class. The people who could have the option to spend less money and more time. Many people have talked about rampant consumerism as a societal sickness.

I'm not so sure about that. Yes, we buy more than we need. More importantly, we think we need more than we need. But I think the drive to work in middle class America is never as simple as that.

Work is important. Work can be very satisfying. Even work that seems detached from a real product or meaning still uses your mind and/or body. Money, and the things that come with it, are a tangible representation of the value of your work and your time. Consumerism can be relevant to feminism in this way, too. Work doesn't just give you buying power, it also provides one component of your self.

Yes, there is also a puritanical spirit (in America) that tells us we're supposed to think of work as a chore, but the truth is that working can be incredibly self-indulgent. And working for a paycheck that provides you everything you really need, as well as some of the things you think you need - well, yes, that can feel very powerful.

[This entry has been brought to you by We Have Brains and my white-collar job that I like ninety percent of the time. I have a biased perspective on work.]


29 July
friday five (blogging)
link : thoughts (0) : track it (0) : in books & tv & internet stuff

This week's Friday Five is randomly interesting. It's [sort of] historical.

1. How long have you had a weblog?

Since October 2000. I initially thought of it as a diary, but it really started as a blog and became both.

2. What was your first post about?

The Sierra Club's insistence on wasting paper (glossy five-insert mailings) and money (a million dollars spent to campaign against Nader).

3. How many changes (name, location, etc.) of your weblog have there been, if more than one?

Initially, there was the Diaryland journal, which has always been - continues to be - called Edge of the Season. Then I added a blog to the main site, mostly for site updates. Then I added Bending, which I wrote at work during the worst six months of my job. Then I killed Bending, and went back to just having this title-less blog (which is now what it is) and the journal on my site.

4. What CMS (content management system) do you use? Do you like it or do you want to try something else?

Greymatter is still my favorite; it's what I use for this site. I use Movable Type for some other things; it's nice, but it's not very portable (say, should you change webhosts). And yes, painful to set up initially. I still think Diaryland is an excellent service for people who, for whatever reason, want their blogs/journals hosted somewhere. I used Blogger briefly, and it made me really glad to find Greymatter.

5. Do you read people who have both a journal and a weblog? Or do you prefer to read people who have all of their writing in one central place?

I read a number of people who have several regularly updated sections of their site. Not all of them have separate blogs and journals - some are basically blogs on different topics, for instance. I think I also read some people who have multiple sites, but I don't read (or even know about) all the places I could read them. I really enjoy getting a couple of different perspectives from one person - I particularly like the internal/external duality that a lot of separate journal/blog writers present. That's also why I maintain a separate blog and journal - one is for everyone to read, and one most people don't find.


25 July
food for thoughts
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I like the idea of writing down lists on the thin ricepaper wrapping of those japanese fruit candies that are somewhere between hard candy and bubblegum. And then eating your words.

I've never done this, I just like the idea of literally eating words. It's like ingesting [insert your comestible religious figure of choice]. I'm thinking Year King. Communion. Symbolic.

I hate the idea of "eating your words" as a figure of speech. For the longest time, I thought it meant taking them in and absorbing them. I thought this was so beautiful. Some words you want to devour. But to eat words as a way of taking them back makes conversation feel like bulimia. I don't take words back, even when they're not understood, even when they're wrong.


aqua one, mattel millions
link : thoughts (0) : track it (0) : in nerdy & silly stuff

Wonder what happened when Mattel sued MCA over that "Barbie Girl" song years ago? Wonder no longer. The case is still cycling through appeals, but MCA won this last round.

It's nice to see dance hits get First Amendment protection. Sounds like a call for kabarettists to start producing subversive pop tunes.

I have to agree with Kerri [my source for the link] that I couldn't tolerate Barbie anymore. It's not her implications as a role model. Barbie is as much feminist as anti-feminist. [Having played with Barbies myself, I know her shape had little relevance. It was, in fact, the "Skipper" doll whose body I could relate to and wanted.]

No. It's Mattel's insistence that Barbie be this inviolable cultural symbol. Please. It's a doll. Her presence in my life in no way shaped it; she and her sisters were just useful puppets for imagination.

Or, if you must have Barbie as a cultural icon, then that icon must be available for distortion, parody and reflection. In that spirit: the Distorted Barbie.

Silly Mattel. You'd think we were burning their flag. Which is, by the way, a First Amendment right.


or the accordion player
link : thoughts (0) : track it (0) : in nerdy & silly stuff

I took another silly quiz. It's better than the average, because it came from wintergale.org. But it's still wrong. It says I'm a keyboard player.

We all know I'm the bassist. Or the accordion player.

The boy came back from Georgia last time with a book for me. A couple of books, actually. One was "The Accordion Crimes", which I honestly tried to like, since it came from the man whose recommendations brought me to Barbara Kingsolver. The interesting thing is that it happened to coincide precisely with the moment at which I decided, out of nothing, that I wanted to learn to play the accordion. So the pictures of different types of accordions were my favorite bit of that book.

In any case, I just remembered this once burning desire I had and have resolved to learn to play some form of accordion. One of the cute button ones, I hope. I'll report back soon.


24 July
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I had a prepackaged snack of crackers, jam and peanut butter. I dug for, and kept somehow missing, any sort of implement of spreading (bright green plastic stick!). Tried dipping the crackers in first peanut butter, then jam. The jam got all icky and wouldn't stick to the cracker anyhow. Tried first jam, then peanut butter. The peanut butter got less icky but was also less inclined to hang with the cracker.

Until I finally found the stick and realised I never wanted my peanut butter and strawberry jam together in the first place. I wanted to scoop the peanut butter up on my cracker, eat it, then swirl my finger in the jelly and eat off my finger.

So I did. It may have been the best thing about my day.

Life is just that minute.


22 July
link : thoughts (1) : track it (0) : in feministy stuff

Woo-hoo, it's Kerri's first We Have Brains question. [Forgive the "woo-hoo", I'm just excited. I imagine sharing your site is a little like watching a baby learn to walk.]

While growing up, what messages did you receive about how to protect yourself?

Self-protection has always been a second-nature sort of thing with me. I recall getting very explicit messages from school and parents about it in very grades, and consequently even being a bit paranoid about it. I've always been a bit paranoid compared to a lot of my (suburban-dwelling) friends. I think it's also partly a city girl thing.

The pointers given to children tend to be extremely unrealistic, focusing on worst-case scenarios: how to survive a fire when you're trapped alone in your room, never talk to strangers, floss twice a day. I was in kindergarten when the whole Adam Walsh thing happened. [For you younger people - you know the "America's Most Wanted" guy? Yeah, his kid was one of the 5 kids taken and murdered by strangers every 10 years, and he turned it into a national crisis. John Walsh is an amazing PR machine.] As a result, I was bombarded with over-explicit warnings about what might happen to me walking home from school or lost in a department store. Terrifying. Unproductive. I wonder how much that has influenced my generation.

I can think of a few positive messages I learned about self-protection. Most of these were learned from homeless people outside my high school for the arts. We went to school in a fairly low-rent section of town, and got out late at night. The homeless guys would watch out for you, follow you to your car, warn you away from creeps. They also modeled a wide variety of proactive self-defense techniques, from cowering to acting crazy/tough. Sharing a few blocks with those guys kinda taught me how to watch out for myself more productively, not to be paranoid.

And then there's always the "you need a man (boy) to walk with you" message. That same school was filled with scrawny little art boys who always insisted on walking girls to their cars. Nothing wrong with travelling in groups, but half the time that meant scrawny art boys walking back from the car alone, no less unsafe than if the girls had gone alone. Stupid boys. I would have people walk me to my car, then drive them back to the theatre. I think the lesson learned there was: watch out for everyone, not just girls. And that sometimes girls know better than boys how to look out for danger.

How have your own ideas about self-protection remained the same and changed over the years?

Obviously, I went from slightly paranoid to pretty street-savvy in high school. I really was a kid who saw the potential for danger in everything, and I managed to turn that into a good reality check.

Prior to college, I was a little worried that I needed to take a martial art or self-defense class. Having participated in some of those workshops and been close to rape recovery programs, I'm worried about self-defense classes. They often have little practical application and have the potential to create even more guilt for attack survivors. The best defense is awareness, and listening to your own fear. [I think every woman and man needs to read The Gift of Fear. Seriously. It costs seven dollars. Buy it for every friend and family member. It's that important.]

Speaking of men, I'm surprised how little some of my male friends are able to recognise possible threats. It's like their fear receptors got turned off by some sort of "I'm a big strong guy" syndrome. This is a perspective that has never changed for me. You are not safer because you are male. You are not safer because you are stronger. Men are safer because they are less likely to know someone who feels their bodies are objects for violation, but that doesn't impact your safety on the street (admittedly, most violent crime doesn't happen randomly on the street, but I've been mostly talking about it that way). Nor does it impact your need to watch out for the sort of people who might try to push your boundaries.

Have you ever had to put any to use, and what was the outcome?

I put my primary self-defense tactic (awareness) to use all the time. I've been approached threateningly a few times, but managed to get out of those situations unscathed, using my secondary defense tactic (getting the hell out of there).

Self-defense is also defending and protecting others. I've (with others) followed people down the street before, just to make sure they'd be safe. I watch for people crossing streets and driving cars and would never leave a friend alone at a party or bar. I don't know how much of a part I've played in this, but no one I know has ever been hurt while I was around.


19 July
i am a militant, pro-sex feminist, dammit.
link : thoughts (5) : track it (0) : in feministy stuff

So, I took this silly Are you a militant feminist? quiz. And the quiz is [did I mention?] silly and filled with misconceptions about what feminists are and do. But it's funny. And ironic.

In all of that silliness, what stuck out most is that all of the porn-related answers are either "I'm in it" (and presumably exploited) or some variation of "I hate it". As if there were no middle ground for women and porn. At least, not in ironic militant feminist land.

So, I thought, someone must have something to say on the subject of militant pro-sex feminist. Surely! But no! My search returned no results. Gasp.

Well, that's going to change. Soon I will appear in any search for "militant pro-sex feminist". I think you should, too.

[Update] You know, "militant sex-positive feminist" doesn't net you anything, either, but removing the quotes from either search gives you some amusingly contradictory results.

And, for the record, any post I make which includes the word "dammit" should be interpreted as humorous. When cursing in earnest, I always make a concerted effort at correct spelling.


link : thoughts (3) : track it (0) : in feministy stuff

Cinnamon's blog, "Did You Know?" featured an excellent bit on common law marriage and the why/why not of marriage in general last week. Read it.

One of the comments turned the discussion to relationships as revolution and revelation. Purely accidentally [maybe we're not that poetic]. And it's true. Relationships are the one area in which women get both not enough and entirely too much guidance. There are thousands of signs for the assumed roads you'll take, but barely even a hand-drawn map if you'd like to step off those metaphorical highways.

Why is marriage an assumption? And why have so many [straight] women of my generation chosen otherwise?

but wait! there's more


18 July
site hosting tragedy
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My webhost sent me an automated reminder to renew my hosting account. Okay, good. But the link in the reminder email took me to nothing. So I emailed. Nothing. Emailed another address. Nothing. Emailed sales, thinking surely sales would care. Nothing.

but wait! there's more


17 July
fat grrrrl
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Fat people need to stick together. We should paint our squishy parts with glue. The frustrating super-strong rubber kind that doesn't ever seem to dry.

I'm all excited, because just as I was about to point out the fabulosity of fat shadow, Tish made me a fat grrrrl. With four r's! We get extra.


link : thoughts (0) : track it (0) : in generally political stuff

Sometimes I have to curl my fingers into my palm to keep from typing you there, are you really that stupid?

I am not a relativist. I am desperately self-righteous. And it is really, really hard for me not to tear down every person whose undefended, unresearched commentary offends me.

When I was younger, I made people cry. Look at me and my reasonable discussions now!

This is not what I came here to tell you. What I came for was this: the Japanese restaurant found my sunglasses, kept them for two weeks, recognised me when we came in last night, and gave them back! This unforeseen windfall made me delight in the wonder of small things enough to again dispel the notion that I might need a new car.

This becomes a long story...

but wait! there's more


16 July
link : thoughts (1) : track it (0) : in feministy stuff

The question I posed to the We Have Brains crew was really several questions. Basically, it was about sisterhood, and about obligation.

but wait! there's more


james brosnahan
link : thoughts (4) : track it (0) : in generally political stuff

John Walker Lindh's lawyer gave an excellent interview on NPR this morning in response to the settlement agreement reached yesterday.

He spoke about being worried that we weren't as free in America as we used to be. He spoke about the American public's willingness to hate a kid who followed his religious beliefs. He spoke about our quickness to assume guilt, our conversion of fear into violence.

And the interesting thing was: what he said could almost have exactly been placed in the mouths of strangers to answer the question we keep asking. Why do they hate us?

They hate us because we all think exactly the same way. Threatened people are quick to react to push the threat as far away as possible.

but wait! there's more


link : thoughts (0) : track it (0) : in books & tv & internet stuff

I've started thinking about a new concept for this site. This should come as no surprise. I've been increasingly using it as a base of operations of sorts, for instance, the feminist collab sits here. Other things sit here. I'm thinking about pulling cuntzilla.org back here, too. Why not just have one site?

So, new concept coming. Some day.

I'm struggling with a design idea, this notion of a memory box. More Shoebox of Lies than Victorian. More Beeswing than Shoebox of Lies. And then it occurs to me that what I'm really thinking is inverting all the colors of nod ltd. because she's really already gone and done it better.



08 July
low-fat equals good?
link : thoughts (0) : track it (0) : in fat & health stuff

If you ever needed proof that there's no such thing as Science (the homogenous entity that always, ultimately, agrees on the best rational idea), read the latest NY Times diet article [you may need to register to read it, but it's worthwhile].

Yes, scientists have disagreed with the whole "low-fat equals good" notion for years. Yes, the research that turned fat into an American national enemy was - well, spurious. But the important thing to note is this: Americans got exponentially fatter in the generation most focused on dieting. And not from a lack of will, activity or self-control [Gasp! Fatties aren't all lonely sluggards who can't keep their fingers out of the ice cream!].

Which leads to my ultimate conclusion: dieting is bad; balanced diets are good. Period. Unless you're allergic to some part of your balanced diet, of course. The article ends up glossing over the balanced-diet theory and focusing on Atkins, but it's still full of useful information.


03 July
you've got... bloginality
link : thoughts (0) : track it (0) : in nerdy & silly stuff

My Bloginality is ENTJ. Or so they say!

Admittedly, I simply answered the questions according to what I already know about my MBTI. So, some doubts on the validity of the survey method. Plus, who else is really annoyed that all the little sidebar links say "Fanny is A ISTJ"? I wish I had a little internet crayon so I could stick little n's in after all those pre-vowel articles.


02 July
the US versus the World
link : thoughts (0) : track it (0) : in generally political stuff

Why aren't we talking about this?

We're pulling out of the Balkans (a rare bird, the functional peacekeeping mission) because we (the US) have a paranoid schizophrenic's notion of the International Criminal Court's secret desire to persecute American soldiers.

Look, as far as I'm concerned, all American soldiers are my daddy, or the little girl who lived across the street when I was a tot. My great not-a-raving-liberal stance is my defensiveness of the individuals who make up our armed forces. [Er, and also that I don't really recycle.]

But please. If you read the ICC material, you'll see that, though US concerns may have originally been valid, the changes made in response to US dissent have substantially changed the mandate of the court. It can now only try individuals who have participated in widespread, systemic war crimes [those endorsed by the state they represent] when the national court of their country cannot or will not effectively conduct a trial. In other words, only for massive scale war crimes, genocide, and other equally appalling acts.

The latent conspiracy theorist in me wonders if the uncooperativeness of the Bush administration doesn't bespeak some intent to perpetrate a few "war crimes" of our own. Maybe to systematically torture some Afghanis down in Gitmo? Because otherwise, I just do not get it.

[Conservative readers, consider this an invitation to "educate" me. I look forward to your responses.]

but wait! there's more


01 July
link : thoughts (1) : track it (0) : in vaguely personal stuff

We've officially moved all of our worldly possessions to the new house.

You wouldn't think it would take two point five weeks just to move across town. It did. But now it's done and we're officially not midtown scenesters anymore.

It just struck me that no one here ever says "midtown". All of the neighborhoods have such specific names that there's just no such thing. I think.

Anyhow, we live far. Not really. We're actually as close to anything good as we ever were, just we're on the other side of it. Though we are awfully close to a county called "Goochland", which, if you're not from around here, is just as backwoodsy as the sound of its name might suggest.


i believe in peace, bitch
link : thoughts (0) : track it (0) : in nerdy & silly stuff

If I were a Tori, I wouldn't like Mondays.

How appropriate, given the Mondayness that characterizes today.

[Thanks to Artemis for ganking that link from someone else, so I could gank it from her.]


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